In GCSE Geography, you will spend a lot of time looking at rivers. This is one of several quizzes on rivers and it looks specifically at river valleys and some of their features, such as meanders, waterfalls and oxbow lakes..
Valleys are defined as the low lying areas of land between hills or mountains, normally with a river or some sort of water course running through them. River valleys are commonly V-shaped, narrow and steeper near to the river's source but become U-shaped, wide and flatter as the river works its way down to sea level.
Nearly all major settlements and civilisations are located within river valleys, and for thousands of years we relied on these rivers for transport, defence, waste disposal and power.
River valleys have a series of features that you need to know about for your exam, including meanders, interlocking spurs, levees, waterfalls, rapids and estuaries. Meanders (the movement of the river across the valley floor which forces back the sides of the valley and deposits rich alluvial soils) are one feature in particular that you need to understand.
Depending on the geology, weather systems, ecosystems and human activity the rivers (and so their valleys and river channels) will have vastly different shapes. Lots of things can affect a river valley's features. Amazingly, the reintroduction of wolves into the Yellowstone National Park lead to the river meandering less and carving a deeper and more stable channel. This was due to the wolves changing the grazing behaviour of the deer in the park, and so allowing vegetation to stabilise the banks.